The CWA has accused Sega of threatening its own workers with layoffs.
For those wondering, this is the Communication Workers of America, the same CWA that supported Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
Founded in 1947, the CWA is the largest media related trade union in America. For most of its existence, it worked with unions in telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon. However, in the 1990s, it started expanding its connections to work with unions for cable television, newspapers, and flight attendants. In 2020, it launched its Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA), which included tech and video game workers.
It was in this capacity that CWA first intervened to help workers trying to unionize under Blizzard. They filed several unfair labor practices against the company, and have directly spoken out against CEO Bobby Kotick.
The CWA supported the Microsoft deal because Microsoft offered them a labor neutrality agreement, that would allow Activision Blizzard King employees to unionize if they wanted to, among other things. The CWA can notch the Microsoft – Activision deal as one of their victories in the video game industry, as you can expect them to continue to be involved in the industry in the future.
And that takes us back to Sega. Last July, Sega of America employees agreed to form a union themselves, called the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS). This came after Sega chose not to voluntarily recognize the proposed union.
Now, CWA has filed an unfair labor practice on Sega, on AEGIS’ behalf. The CWA claims that Sega proposed to phase out their temporary workers and start outsourcing those jobs to Japan and Europe starting next year.
AEGIS member Elise Willacker shared this statement to GamesIndustry.Biz:
“My coworkers on the bargaining committee were not given any notice that this proposal would be announced to the rest of the company mere hours after the meeting, and before anyone had a chance to review or formulate a response.
It’s disheartening to see such actions from Sega, as it unmistakably demonstrates bad faith bargaining and a refusal to recognise the valuable contributions of a significant portion of our colleagues.
Sega will not be allowed to get away with this unlawful behaviour. We call on the company to make all temporary employees permanent and return to the bargaining table in good faith. There is no other just alternative.”
Sega has yet to respond as of this writing. Given the atmosphere of layoffs in the industry, including layoffs Sega made at UK studio Creative Assembly themselves, this will not go over well with the public. The right thing for the company to do would be to recognize the union and negotiate, to get back to making games, but this is all the updates on this news that we have for now.